(post by Jason) Any groundhog who came out of his hidey hole to have a look around here in Middle Tennessee definitely saw his shadow today. I hope the pesky little rodent enjoyed the sunshine and the 65 degree temperatures that accompanied it, and I hope he had a good look at the early daffodils and forsythia in bloom all over the Mid-State today with his six more weeks of winter prognostication.
I've been an amateur phenologist for most of my adult life, and for far longer than I knew what the study of phenology was. In Ontario I used to watch for and keep track of bloom dates for daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, crocuses, lilacs and forsythia. Additionally, I also kept track of leaf out dates for willow (earliest tree to green up, usually late April or early May), Manitoba Maple, Sugar Maple, White Oak, and Locust (latest tree to leaf out...usually the end of May or early June).
Here in Tennessee I do much the same thing. As I walk the farm each day checking horses, cows and fences, my eyes are always drawn to the fencerows and woods, particularly to spots where stuff I watch for every year grows. I'm still learning the layout and the various plant species at the new farm, but I found a fantastic patch of daffodils in every pasture two springs ago and I watch for them early every spring.
The horses have been enjoying our very mild temperatures and I noticed today that the cool season grasses have broken their winter semi-dormancy and are seriously beginning to green up. While it's not too late for us to get some cold winter weather it has been my experience here in Tennessee that once the grass starts to really green up it is most likely going to keep at it no matter what the weather throws at it. As such, the horses are spending less time around their hay feeders and more time stealthily searching for a bite of fresh green grass.
the daffodils on February 2nd
Lily napping shortly after the rain stopped yesterday
Lighty, Fuzzy and Renny
Chimano, Romeo, George and Faune
Winston and Fonzi
Murphy, Dutch and Wiz
Fabrizzio, Thor and Lightening